Thomas Sowell

When famed bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said: "Because that's where the money is."

For the same reason, it is as predictable as the sunrise that medical care for the elderly will be cut back under a government-controlled medical system. Because that's where the money is.

My experience is probably not very different from that of many other people in their seventies. My medical expenses in the past year have been more than in the first 40 years of my life-- and I did not spend one night in a hospital all last year or go to an emergency room even once.

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Just the ordinary medical expenses of keeping an old geezer going along in good health are high. Throw in a medical emergency or two and the costs go through the roof.

So long as my insurance company and I are paying for it, it is nobody else's business what my medical expenses are. But once the government is involved, everything is their business.

It is not just a question of what the government will pay for. The logic of their collectivist thinking-- and the actual practice in some other countries with government-controlled health care-- is that you cannot even pay for some medical treatments with your own money, if the powers that be decide that "society" cannot let its resources be used that way, or that it would not be "social justice" for some people to have medical treatments that others cannot get, just because some people "happen to have money."

The medical care stampede is about much more than medical care, important as that is. It is part of a whole mindset of many on the left who have never reconciled themselves to an economic system in which how much people can withdraw from the resources of the nation depends on how much they have contributed to those resources.

Despite the cleverness of phrases about people who "happen to have money," very few people just happen to have money. Most people earned their money by supplying other people with goods or services that those people were willing to pay for.

Since it is their own money that they have earned, these people feel free to spend it to give their 80-year-old grandmother another year or two of life, or to pay for a hip replacement operation for their mom or dad, even If some medical "ethicist" might say that the resources of "society" would be better used to allow some 20-year-old to talk over his angst with a shrink.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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